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Repost: How We Make Decisions and Changes

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Decision DiagramsThe book for today, because of a typo was delivered to someone else’s address – twice.  So I have moved that review to another day and thought I would repost this workshop lecture I gave in 2008, as I have used this model about 20 times in 2015 and know that others might also find useful another look. Here Goes!

Early in my years of education, I had a Social Work Professor who taught a whole week of classes on how people make change and decisions in their lives. This teacher had sociology studies, psychological studies, historic studies, and abnormal behavioral science studies all included in her efforts. My classmates and I were to write a 5 page paper summarizing her work and adding our own research and thoughts about how people make decisions and changes in their lives.

I love to write and yet still found myself floundering in figuring out what I was going to say about this subject. I spent 2 pages summarizing all the things I learned in the lecture series and then another 2 pages summarizing my research and still had no thoughts about what to say about my own conclusions.

I started to draw a picture of all the words that were included in the summaries and I noticed that if I gave the words different sizes that a form was taking place. A triangle balanced on point was the first shape. I then took the shape and added another shape of words on top of the widest part of the triangle and a Diamond shape emerged. I had put 2 forms to indicate 2 kinds of processes that are used to make a decision or change… hmmm! Let’s look at those words and forms:

Now I had created two forms which summarized all the information I had learned about change and decision making and put them into a simple step by step format for moving forward. Except that I was missing out on one kind of decision making change process that is either a joy or a problem. I wanted to pass this paper so I needed to figure out how to symbolize the process for little decisions and ideas. First I called it the $10 decision: If you did not need your $10 in your pocket to pay some other bill, then you could jump in and make a spontaneous decision on something you found to enjoy for $10. I decided I would call that the JUMP decision.

The hard part about the JUMP decision is that it is only good for those little choices that you can cover easily. If you don’t have $10 extra and spend the $10 in your pocket in a jump decision it throws all your bigger decision off balance – you lose the point of sharpness of your other decisions. It is the type of decision that ruins the best laid plans, the New Year’s resolution and family budgets in just a split second. It can cause a halt to a whole lifetime of future decisions too.

I have used these three models over the past 40 years of practice and work endeavors. I have used these models to set up budgets and help institutions make change. The only time they fail me is when I throw a JUMP decision into the Triangle or Diamond at the wrong place and throw the whole plan off balance.

The first week of May I went to a workshop on how Institutions make change and progress. Guess What! Though the language/words used were in the context of the institutions needs, after two hours, I came away with the Diamond, the Triangle and the JUMP decision/ change process.

Here is an example of a 17 year old boy working on the Diamond Decision Making Model

  1. Idea – what will I do with the rest of my life or life after High School?
  2. Creating Possibilities:
    I could: become a mechanic
    go to college
    be a Doctor
    become Peter Pan and never grow up
    join the military
    hang out with friends
    drink beer – as soon as I turn 21
    get married
    perform in a rock band
    be an actor
    take a career interest survey
    work at fishing
    become a millionaire
    become a parent
    invent video games
    just be a gamer
    (the possibilities might just be endless)
  3. Researching possibilities
    take a career planning survey
    take an interest survey
    lists your strengths and weaknesses
    ask your friends what you should do
    visualize you in 5 years in 10 years
    how will you pay your way? include health ins./ living expenses/ food/ shelter/ clothing
    I will take a class on how to make decisions
    I will look at trade school and colleges
    Go to the military recruiters but not until the last minute and if that is my choice
  4. Interviewing People
    an important step: will his parents be able to help with college expenses? or help write grants
    will he find his personality is not compatible with his interest – vocation choice vs hobby choice
    can he do a work experience or Internship in that area and see if that is what he likes
    do other people have good ideas about fund raising for this kind of training
    suggestions for training programs
    many business will pay for your education if you prove to be a good employee
    give other suggestions and encouragement for the process
    what have they found to be true in living out their life or career
    information interviews with people living life in the path you would like to take or on a specific job
  5. Sorting and Gleaning the Ideas
    very hard process and often takes some alone time or journal writing time
    very often some little magic will happen at this point in your life
    the answer will just come to you when it is right and many things will just fall into place.
  6. The Decision and the Changes will take place
    Then you start the process and go through the Triangle or Diamond model again to get launched.

This is just one example but just think what might happen if people made a jump decision at 17 and discovered they were now going to be a parent? or they just bought a car they can not make payments on? or they bought a house without figuring out that the promises were not real? (A lot of folks just did this – the current mortgage crisis) Got to watch out for those Jump Decisions!

Shiny Objects